Attorneys General Take Shots At Bud.TV's Age Verification Procedures

from the kids-might-get-influenced dept

Budweiser's efforts at creating its own broadband video channel, Bud.TV, have been hailed as a good example of how a brand can promote itself at a time when it's hard to reach consumers using traditional media. But, the company is already finding itself in hot water (via Broadband Reports), as the attorneys general from 21 states have criticized the company for not doing enough to prevent underage viewers from accessing the site. What's funny is that up until this point, the company has been criticized for doing too much to prevent people under 21 from accessing the site, to the point that it's deterring viewers who are of legal age. Already, Bud.TV asks users for their name, birthday and zip code, which it then matches against a database to verify a user's age. Apparently, the AGs would like Bud.TV to do things like follow-up phone calls to viewers in an effort to better verify that they are who say they are, which is a rather burdensome demand.

At first glance, some might dismiss the AGs' heavy-handed approach as an isolated problem because Budweiser sells a controlled substance, which brings up issues that don't apply to most companies. But, the more you look into the AGs' complaint, the more worrisome it actually is. They're concerned, among other things, about the ability for a viewer to email content to someone else, which they see as a way to circumvent the age restrictions. Of course, being able to share content is one of the key features of many new media ventures. Will they make the same complaint when some company offers R-rated content and allows users to email their friends, who might not be 17, about it? More broadly, the concern of the AGs is heightened because the venture represents "unknown and unmeasured" territory. Essentially, what it boils down to is that Budweiser is being targeted for doing something new. If it were to run the same content on regular TV, nobody would be clamoring for safeguards to ensure that young people can't see it. The company wouldn't be expected to make calls to viewers to verify their age. But because it's breaking new ground -- and because it's easy to vilify the dangers lurking on the internet -- it's being held to an absurdly high standard.
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  1. identicon
    Bob, 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:13pm

    This has got to be a joke

    Surely, I can buy pornography, and simply give it to somebody under age......
    Where is the follow up call on the razorz for my mach 3 turbo?
    Who is going to check that kids have gone to bed early enough and are not watching TV....
    These are all the same issues we have never been able to fix, the AG's have identified no new problem.
    If you are an AG and reading this, be ashamed at your utter stupidity.

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